Paul and I stepped off the elevator and wandered down the hall looking for the correct apartment. We’d landed in NYC just hours earlier. I knocked softly and Jacob opened the door. After we’d spoken for a while he left the room and returned with his cello, the reason we had come.
I noticed he kept a tight grip on the instrument as he talked with us about the technical part of its history. I mentioned that it must be difficult to sell the cello that he’d had since he was a child. “Not really,” pause, “I hate this cello.” Silence. Our quiet seemed to open up the box where the truth was living. His eyes filled as he told us about the hours his father had forced him to practice. Relentless years of criticism, frustration and rage. He had not had the courage to get rid of the instrument until after his father’s death. However, as we reached for the cello to begin packing it up, it seemed difficult for him to release it. His beautiful instrument sat quietly, keeping his secrets, loyal to the end. There was true relief in us walking out with it, but there was also true sadness.
The cello landed at Barbara’s home on Friday. She opened her door and squealed at the sight of the massive box. She had been waiting for this day, for this instrument.
Her emails could barely contain her joy. “MH and I are getting to know each other...” “The cello has been so patient with me...”
When we contact the woman who placed this cello on consignment with us she is thrilled that it has found a new home. Her emails can barely contain her relief that her old friend is safe and being played once again.
Paul and I are the matchmakers. We bring home the cellos of your mothers, grandfathers and the failed experiments of your children. Stories filled with symphonies, immigrant crossings and stardom, of accidents, suicides and failure.
People need attic space, to be rid of clutter, to move on and, people need money. The instruments rest here for a while, standing among friends, waiting:
For the college student who has taken a loan to buy the cello.
For the adult who played as a child but gave it up. Until today.
For the beaming teenager with the slightly nervous, but smiling, parents.
It is what we do and we are honored by the task.
Brian was happy I called him to tell him that we’d sold his cello. He wanted to know all about it’s new life but then was quiet for a moment, “I’ve had that cello since I was a child, took it everywhere, so I’m happy, but I’m also sad, do you know what I mean?”